Info about friends of Israel gathering for a counter-protest in San Francisco

Word got out that ANSWER, a Communist front group, is planning a protest at the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco today (June 1), so Stand With Us in San Francisco is trying to gather for a counter-protest.  So, the email you see below is from a group friendly to Israel, giving information about ANSWER’s protest, and what to expect:

Of course, everyone is aware of the recent events involving Israel’s interception of so-called “peace activists” on the Gaza flotilla; some of these “peace activists” attacked Israeli soldiers with knives, crowbars and poles which led to deaths and injuries.

Anti-Israel groups led by International ANSWER are holding a protest in front of the Israeli Consulate building in San Francisco (456 Montgomery Street) Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 PM. SWU/SF Voice for Israel is going to be there to counter them. We will have some flags and signs, please feel free to bring your own as well. If you choose to bring your own signs, please no signs or graphics offensive to any racial or ethnic group including but not limited to Arabs, Islam, or Palestinians in general. Signs in violation of our policies do not help the pro-Israel cause and will not be allowed.

Please be aware of the possibility that some of the so-called “peace activists” here in the Bay Area may not be any more peaceful than their counterparts on the Turkish boat; use common sense and avoid engaging with those on the other side as you arrive or leave the area.

We will be updating you on the status of protests at Israel in the Gardens as we become aware of them. We hope that the SFPD will recognize the need to keep anti-Israel protestors away from the gates of the festival.

Finally, we are including this excellent summary prepared by the Northwest (Seattle) chapter of StandWithUs as an information resource.


As most of you have already heard, there was a major altercation at sea between the Israeli navy and a flotilla of vessels attempting to run the Israeli blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza.

This flotilla was purely a PR effort by groups that support Hamas-controlled Gaza. Israel currently allows 15,000 tons humanitarian aid per day into Gaza, more than a ton of aid per person in Gaza every year.

After Israel issued numerous warnings before the flotilla left the Turkish portion of Cyprus that it would stop the flotilla and after numerous warnings at sea by the Israeli naval ships that intercepted the vessels (go to to see a video of the Israeli navy warning the flotilla ships to stop), the flotilla refused to change course. Israel had told the flotilla that if they docked at Ashdod, Israel would transport all the humanitarian aid on their ships to Gaza, but that Israel would not let the flotilla carry the goods to Gaza because it had to inspect the cargo to ensure that there were neither weapons nor weapon-producing or tunnel constuction materials on board.

The flotilla ignored these numerous warnings. After the flotilla continued toward Gaza despite of the warnings by the Israeli navy that they would board the flotilla, Israeli navy commandos did begin to board the flotilla ships.

When the Israeli commandos boarded the ships, demonstrators attacked them with live gunfire as well as with knives, crowbars and clubs. The demonstrators threw at least one of the Israeli commandos from the top deck to the deck below (a 30 foot drop). All the while, the Israeli commandos were yelling to each other “No shooting! No weapons!” Only after what you can see in on YouTube (go to! to see this astonishing video), did the Navy authorize the use of weapons.

Tragically, it is reported that at least 10 demonstrators died and others were wounded. All wounded were flown to Israeli hospitals. Numerous Israeli naval commandos were gravely wounded as well. They, too, were taken to Israeli hospitals. The ships were escorted in to Ashdod, from where any humanitarian aid will be taken to Gaza by Israel.

For StandWithUs’ s statement on the Gaza Flotilla incident, go to

For background facts and videos from Honest Reporting Canada showing “Gaza Flotilla” members attacking Israeli naval commandos, go to

For an eye witness account “A Brutal Ambush at Sea,” by Ron Ben-Yishai of Ynet News, go to,7340,L-3896796,00.html

For an excellent summary and background, see the materials put together by The Jewish Federations of North America go to

The illogical behavior and beliefs of the American Statist

“Logic! Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?” — C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Neither Data nor Mr. Spock, two relentlessly logical creations, could ever be liberals or Democrats or Progressives, or whatever the Hell else they’re calling themselves nowadays.  (For convenience, I’ll just lump them all together under the “Statist” title).  As I realized over the 20 plus years of my political journey from knee-jerk Statist to thinking Individualist, the single greatest difference between the two ideologies is that the former lives in a logic-free world.

Sure, as Statists will always shrilly point out, more Individualists than Statists subscribe to traditional religion — and the belief in God definitely requires a leap of faith — but that’s just about the only leap of faith in their lives.  Their political positions are almost always driven by a solid understanding, not only of human nature, but also of the realities of cause and effect.  Liberals, on the other hand, even as they pride themselves on the logic of their abandoning God (never mind that they cannot satisfactorily prove God’s nonexistence), apply magical thinking to just about everything else.

Here, in no particular order, is a laundry list of illogical policies espoused by Statists (with the understanding that modern statism is driven by identity politics and self-loathing):

Statists believe that America’s out-of-control illegal immigration has nothing to do with the fact that, when illegal immigrants sneak across the border, we provide them with education, health care, welfare, food stamps, and the promise that they will be allowed to remain in the country regardless of their unlawful status.  These same Statists, blind to the laws of cause and effect, are always shocked when temporary crackdowns result in a corollary (and, equally temporary) diminution in the number of illegal aliens.

Statists are wedded to the idea that government creates wealth.  To this end, they are bound and determined to use taxes to consolidate as much money as possible in government hands so that the government can go about its magical wealth creation business.  The fact that those countries that have all or most of their wealth concentrated in government hands have collapsed economically (Eastern Europe, Cuba) or are in the process of collapsing (Western Europe) doesn’t impinge on this belief.  As even my 10 year old and 12 year old understand, the government’s ability to print money is not the same as an ability to create wealth.  The best way for a government to create wealth is to ensure a level playing field with honestly enforced rules — and then to get out of the way.

Statists believe that no-strings-attached welfare has nothing to do with the creation of a welfare culture.  My father, the ex-Communist, figured this one out:  “If you’re going to pay women to have babies (meaning constantly increasing welfare benefits), they’re going to have babies.”  In 1994, a Republican Congress forced Clinton to change “welfare as we know it.”  To the Statists’ chagrin, all their dire predictions about weening Americans off the government teat proved false.  Poor people are not stupid people.  If they’re getting paid to do nothing, they’ll do nothing.  If that money vanishes, they’ll work.  By the way, I’m not arguing here against charity for those who cannot care for themselves.  I’m only railing against a political system that encourages whole classes of people to abandon employment.  This subject is relevant now, in 2010, because there is no doubt but that, Rahm-like, Democrats are using the current economic situation as a backdoor to increase welfare benefits to pre-1994 standards.

During the run-up to the ObamaCare vote, Statists adamantly contended that, even if employers would find it far cheaper to pay fines than to provide insurance coverage for their employees, they would still provide coverage.  Likewise, they refused to acknowledge that, if insurers could no longer refuse coverage for preexisting conditions, and if individual fines were cheaper than insurance, savvy consumers would jettison insurance and wait until they were actively ill before knocking on the insurer’s door.  In both cases, the Statists’ illogical beliefs about human nature and economics were proven absolutely and conclusively wrong.  (Info and examples are here, here and here.)

For decades, Statists have contended that if we can just get guns out of citizens’ hands crime will go away.  To the Statists, the problem isn’t one of culture and policing, it’s that the guns themselves cause crime.  What’s fascinating is that they continue in this belief despite manifest evidence that it is untrue.  The NRA was right all along:  If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

Statists firmly believe that Individualists (a group that includes Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, and other “bitter” Americans), are an angry mob, primed and ready to explode against all non-white, non-straight, non-Christians.  They do so despite hard evidence that angry mobs, as opposed to scattered angry individuals, reside solely on the Left, anti-American side of the political spectrum.

Statist gays, who feel obligated to be Leftists because of identity politics, throw their wholehearted support behind Palestinians, whom they see as the beleaguered victims of evil Israeli imperialism.  They hold to this view despite the fact that Palestinians kills gays, and Palestinian gays regularly try to immigrate to the safe haven of Israel.  In the same way, Statist gays, hewing to their solid Leftist credentials, side with Iran against America, despite the fact that Iran is able to boast about the absence of homosexuals only because it routinely kills them.

Statist blacks, who feel obligated to be Leftists  because of identity politics, are deeply hostile to the police.  While there is absolutely no doubt that, in the past, police routinely harassed, arrested, and killed black people just for being black, we’re not living in the past anymore.  In modern America, the person most likely to kill a black person is another black person.  Blacks need police more than I do, sitting in my comfortable safe, suburbia — yet it’s here, in white suburbia, that our police force, which is largely decorative, is appreciated and admired.

American Statists believe that, if you placate a bully, he will see the error of his ways and become nice.  It didn’t work for Chamberlain in 1938, and I’m pretty damned sure it won’t work for us, whether the bully is Iran, Venezuela, China, Russia or any other totalitarian government intent upon expanding its power beyond its own borders.  I’m not advocating unbridled aggression our part.  That would mean we’re no better than the bullies arrayed against us.  I’m more of a Teddy Roosevelt, in that I’ll allow us to speak softly, as long as we carry a big stick.  Self-defense is not aggression — and sometimes you have to fight to defend a principle, a person, or a nation.

Statist women are silent, absolutely silent, about the condition of women across most of the Muslim world.  I think I’ll rename them “sadist” women, not “statist” women.

Statists tout as a quality Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan, who violated American law to bar the military from her campus because of Clinton’s don’t ask/don’t tell policy, but who cheerfully accepted millions of dollars and a chair from the same Saudis who murder homosexuals and treat women like 32nd class citizens.  There’s logic for you.

I opened this post with a quotation from C.S. Lewis regarding the absence of logic in education.  We can see the profoundly dangerous effect that lack of logic has on real world policies.  I’ll end with Tweedledee and Tweedledum opining on logic in a way that only a Statist could appreciate and understand:

“I know what you’re thinking about,” said Tweedledum: “but it isn’t so, nohow.”

“Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”

Obama is setting Israel up for a terrible fall *UPDATED*

Never assume stupidity when malevolence can apply — words that aptly characterize the Obama administration’s approach to Israel.  Evelyn Gordon takes a look at the new “proximity” talks between Israel and the Palestinians, talks that no one expects to yield any results.   After all, the predicate is that the Obama administration has made demands only on Israel, and no demands whatsoever on the Palestinians.  One bar is set impossibly high, and the other bar . . . well, there is no other bar.  That contestant just gets to sit on the sidelines and sip daiquiris.  So why go through this charade?

Because currently, Obama lacks both public and congressional support for moving beyond mere verbal hostility. If he didn’t realize this before, the backlash to his March temper tantrum over Ramat Shlomo would certainly have convinced him.

So he needs to up the ante by painting Israel’s government as responsible for torpedoing a key American foreign-policy initiative — one he has repeatedly framed as serving both a vital American national interest and a vital Israeli one. He could then argue not only that Israel deserves punishment but that such punishment would actually serve Israel’s interests.

To avoid this trap, Jerusalem must launch its own PR campaign in America now to put the focus back where it belongs: on Palestinian unwillingness to accept a Jewish state. For if Israel lets Obama control the narrative, the public and congressional support on which it depends may be irretrievably undermined.

UPDATE: As a companion piece to the above, I recommend Daniel Pipes on the only precondition that matters.

Even self-styled victims have lines their fellow-travelers aren’t supposed to cross

We all know that Palestinians are victims, right?  That’s why they get a free pass for eating up billions of dollars in foreign aid without establishing viable communities, for launching tens of thousands of missiles aimed at Israeli civilians, and for periodically boarding Israeli buses or entering Israeli restaurants to get an up-close-and-personal approach to massacring Jews.  Still, even self-styled victims have their limits.  In Israel, Palestinian women in Israeli prisons drew the line at being portrayed in Turkish television shows as the victims of sexual assault.  Their gripe is that it makes them look so . . . so . . . victimish:

The Turkish TV show which sparked a diplomatic crisis between Ankara and Jerusalem has now incurred the anger of those who were depicted by it as the victims. Female Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails called on the Saudi MBC channel Monday to stop airing the “Valley of the Wolves” series. They claim that a scene depicting a prisoner being raped by soldiers offends their honor.


According to a report in the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi, “Valley of the Wolves” focuses on the “suffering of a Palestinian family whose sons are killed by the Israeli army.” The report states that Palestinian female inmates are outraged over a scene in which a supposed Palestinian prisoner named Miriam is being raped by IDF soldiers in an Israeli prison.

In a statement issued Monday, the prisoners said that the scene has no bearing with reality. “This is an attempt to slander the Palestinian female prisoner’s image and mask its heroic role.” The prisoners feel that the scene is offensive to Palestinian women portraying them as submissive.

“The broadcast of these images is a humiliation for the people and the whole nation and serves the occupation alone,” the statement read.

The al-Quds al-Arabi report noted that the prisoner in the scene is later seen released from prison and murdered by family members “as traditionally done by the conservative Palestinian society.”

The murder scene also incurred the wrath of the women. “It’s a slandering of the Palestinian family which kills its daughter to clear the family’s honor,” their statement noted.

The prisoners noted that they were proudly welcomed by their families upon their release from prison.

Interestingly, one former prisoner admitted something very important about those Israeli prisons — Palestinian women are not sexually assaulted there:

A former Palestinian inmate from the Gaza Strip Manal al-Nawajha told the newspaper she had never heard of any rape incidents of Palestinian inmates throughout her prison term. She said that the rape scene in the series “compromised the Palestinian struggle and society at large.”

I believe that. Aside from the fact that Israelis generally hold themselves to a high standard, rape has not traditionally been a Jewish crime. That doesn’t mean Jews don’t commit rape; it just means that rape, traditionally, has been aberrant, rather than a part of the larger cultural norm.

Obama administration to blackmail Israel into behaving suicidally

For anyone struggling to understand what has happened in the Middle East since the Oslo “Peace” Accord, I cannot recommend anything more highly than Evelyn Gordon’s Commentary magazine article, The Deadly Price of Pursuing Peace.  The so-called peace process, by destroying Israel’s long-standing legal rights, caused her to lose focus and room to negotiate.  The fact that demands were made only on Israel, and never on the Palestinians, allowed the latter to engage in ever more extreme and violent conduct, forcing Israel into acts of self-defense that played badly on televisions around the world.  And on and on.  In every way, the “peace process” disabled the Democracy and empowered the totalitarian, genocidal, corrupt, increasingly theocratic, and yet still remarkably anarchic collection of people around and within her borders.

“Peace” as mandated by one Democratic president (that would be Clinton), has not served Israel well.  Obama, typically, is taking the whole so-called peace process to a whole new level, asking Israel to commit suicide, or else he’ll try, slowly and bloodlessly, to kill her:

Mideast envoy George Mitchell has threatened that the U.S. could freeze aid to Israel if the country fails to advance peace talks, reported.

Mitchell said the U.S. can legally cut its support for aid to Israel and that all options must remain open, YNet reports, though he clarified on PBS that the U.S. wants to put pressure on both sides in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

78% of American Jews voted for Obama. American Jews, obviously, are idiots. I am that rare American Jew who is not, because I see very clearly what is going on here:  as was manifest during the entire campaign, Barack Obama is not only not a friend to Israel, he is an active enemy.

The one thing that gives me hope is that, as the administration’s hostility becomes more and more apparent, Israel is going to feel herself less obligated to tow the American line.  Israel trusted George Bush, and abided by his requests, even when they were bad for Israel.  With Barack Obama, there is no such good will to sustain Israel.  Right now, Israel has a brilliant hawk leading her; she has a population that, for the first time, isn’t riven by a peace movement that keeps thinking you can negotiate with people who want only to kill you; and she has an increasingly clear understanding that nothing that the Obama administration requests or suggests will be good for her.  She may, therefore, start moving unilaterally and wisely in her own defense.

What Palestianians really want

With every passing post, I am more impressed by Evelyn Gordon’s opinings about Israel.  Today’s post is another home run, this time showing, in clear language, that the Palestinian demand for a two-state solution is one more dangerous, expensive fraud, in an age of dangerous, expensive frauds.

The end of cognitive dissonance in Israel

I think Obama has done a good thing for Israel.  With his abandonment of Israel, leaving Israel hanging out in the wind on her own, even the Israeli Left has been forced to face a reality they previously denied:  Palestinians are not partners in peace.  They are a force aimed at Israel’s total destruction and the death of her citizens.  Evelyn Gordon sums up the trail of facts that leaves Israel looking at 15 wasted years culminating in a hostile American administration:

Nor is it really hard to see why Israelis have stopped believing. First, every territorial concession since the 1993 Oslo Accord has produced only more terror. Palestinians killed more Israelis in the first two and a half years after Oslo than in the entire preceding decade, and in 2000-04 (the height of the second intifada), Israel’s terror-related casualties exceeded those of the entire preceding 53 years. The withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 led to the Second Lebanon War, and the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 produced daily rocket barrages on southern Israel. To most Israelis, bombs and rockets exploding in their cities don’t look much like peace.

This has been compounded by the complete lack of movement in Palestinian positions since 1993, even as Israeli leaders offered ever-increasing concessions. Israeli leaders routinely tell their people that peace will require “painful concessions.” Palestinian leaders are still telling their people that peace will enable 4.7 million descendants of Palestinian refugees to resettle in pre-1967 Israel, thus destroying the Jewish state demographically. And Israelis find it hard to believe in a peace whose price, according to their supposed “peace partner,” is Israel’s eradication.

I can think of another reason for the Palestinian shortfall

Here’s the beginning of the story about why $200 million in taxpayer money is being poured into the bottomless pit that is the Palestinian people (emphasis mine):

The United States has transferred $200 million to the Palestinian government to help ease a growing budget deficit, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has been struggling in recent months to keep his government afloat, borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars from commercial banks just to cover the public payroll.

The reasons for the shortfall include Israel’s restrictions on the Palestinian economy, the border blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the failure of some donor countries to make good on their aid pledges, Fayyad said Friday, in a video conference with Clinton.

With Friday’s aid transfer, donor countries have given the Palestinian government $606 million in budget support this year, covering only about one-third of the estimated deficit of $1.45 billion for 2009, Fayyad said.

“We have received aid, but not enough to deal with our needs, and we faced sharp economic difficulties throughout the last months,” Fayyad told reporters.

Since 2007, donor countries have pledged more than $10 billion to the Palestinians, to help shore up the Western-backed government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who lost Gaza in a violent Hamas takeover two years ago. However, the aid has had little impact, largely because Israeli restrictions on Palestinian trade and movement have prevented a recovery of the Palestinian economy.

Maybe another reason for the shortfall is that the Palestinians, as a nation, are engaged in a zero sum game, with their only product being unprofitable suicide bombers.

The Palestinian people comprise one giant welfare state, with all the pathologies that normally entails, multiplied by a thousand because of their genocidal culture.  Perhaps the best thing we could do for them is to announce a cut-off date, after which they get no money whatsoever.  Perhaps if they were forced to be economically self-sufficient — to tend their crops, manufacture goods, and focus on production — they’d have less time to pursue their insanely hate-filled, murderous path.  As it is, by pumping money into the West Bank and Gaza, the West is creating precisely those idle hands that are the devil’s playground.

The world gobbles up blood libels against Israel *UPDATES*

Most of the world’s media members, if asked, would undoubtedly identify themselves as sophisticates, who are too cynical and world-weary to take anything at face value.  Their mental self-image almost certainly falls somewhere between wise-cracking Cary Grant (His Girl Friday) and idealistic Woodward and Bernstein.  They care deeply, but they’ve seen it all.  To which I would respond that it’s always a fascinating sociological and psychological moment when a single group suffers from such a profound mass delusion.

That the media has no healthy cynicism, objectivity, or even decency, was beautifully demonstrated when Sarah Palin appeared on the political screen.  Even as someone who likes Palin, I freely admit that she was an easy target.  If you think Ivy League degrees are the only ones worth having, she didn’t have one; if you think states with big populations are the only ones that provide worthy political experience, she didn’t come from one; if you think believing in God is a sign of primitive irrationality, she was both primitive and irrational; and if you believe in the perfection of the human race through casual eugenics, Palin was a race traitor.  And of course there was that absolute lack of foreign policy experience, although no one seemed to mind it in Obama, so I won’t go there.

The media wasn’t content with easy targets.  Proving themselves credulous and naive, rather than cynical and sophisticated, they leaped onto every rumor they could find, and trumpeted those rumors as the absolute truth:

This New Journalism, if you can call it that, exhibited in 2008 was epitomized by an eradication of the lines between fact and opinion – and, even more troubling, between reporting and propaganda. Some journalists were content to repeat Democratic Party talking points or bloggers’ rumors as though they were established fact, interspersing them with ideological commentary in a kind of toxic stew.

The media’s mass hysteria when it came to Sarah Palin was a sad demonstration of the way in which blind ideology can lead formerly trustworthy institutions to engage in ferocious acts of personal destruction.  (The by-product, of course, might be the destruction of America as we know it, but that certainly wasn’t the media’s goal.  Its members were out to get Sarah, not America.)

But what about a media that’s out to get a whole country?  And what if, in pursuit of that goal, reporters set outside any journalistic instincts and report as gospel truth the most scurrilous, and manifestly false rumors they can find?  If you’ve paid any attention to the news for the past twenty-five years or so, you know that this question isn’t hypothetical.  It’s an accurate description of the way in which the world media responds to stories about Israel.  The latest example popped up this past week.  I discovered it when I checked Spiegel Online, as I periodically do for news as seen on the continent.

At Spiegel, I saw this bold-type headline: ISRAELI SOLDIERS PROVIDE SHOCKING TESTIMONY : Report Paints Damning Picture of Gaza Campaign.  The story reported on the horrible testimony IDF soldiers provided about routine brutality against Palestinian civilians:

Israel has claimed that everything was done to protect innocent lives during its recent military operation in the Gaza Strip. But according to statements from Israeli soldiers there were malicious acts of destruction, white phosphorus was used and civilians were deliberately targeted.

The report is an account of acts of brutality. The Israeli human rights organization Breaking the Silence spent several months interviewing veterans of the Gaza war that took place in January of this year. The responses by 54 of the veterans paint a completely different picture of Israel’s campaign against the Islamist organization Hamas from that provided by the Israeli military leadership. According to the report, the commanders hammered it into their soldiers that they were not to show any consideration for the Palestinian civilian population, so as not to risk the lives of Israeli troops.

The statements by reservists, conscripts, soldiers and officers, which are consistent with and reinforce each other, substantiate for the first time the suspicion that the Israeli military in many cases ignored one of the basic tenets of the international laws of war: the distinction between combatants and innocent bystanders. The three-week war claimed the lives of about 1,400 Palestinians, many if not most of them civilians.

There’s more, all in the same vein, including pictures of sad Palestinians.  What’s fascinating is that, aside from ignoring conflicting third-party reports about Israel’s exceptional efforts to protect civilians) there’s not a word in the Spiegel article about the “human rights organization Breaking the Silence” on which the story relies.  After all, a report is only as good as its source.  Unlike the credulous reporters, who assumed that Breaking the Silence must be speaking the truth because it’s results jibed perfectly with their own ideological view (Israelis:  murderers; Palestinians:  victims), I was immediately suspicious.

One of the first tip-offs was the way Breaking the Silence is designated as a “human rights organization.”  Long experience shows that those groups are never concerned with human rights in the abstract.  They are always leftist organizations that are concerned with proving that America and Israel brutally victimize other people and they’re willing to sleep in any beds (politically speaking) to make their points.  The fact that this is an Israeli group (which has the potential to destroy Israel) didn’t seem to affect that agenda.

Still, the organization’s self-identification is circumstantial evidence at best.  I needed more, so I contacted the people who were most likely to know:  Robert Avrech at Seraphic Secret, Soccer Dad, Thomas Lifson of American Thinker, Omri Ceren at Mere Rhetoric; Freedom Fighter at JoshuaPundit; and Carl at Israel Matzav.  They were all swift and unanimous in their response:  Breaking the Silence is a Leftist group that is more dedicated to Leftism than it is to its members own survival. Soccer Dad sent me the best summary of this latest example of Israeli citizens attacking themselves:

Israeli non-governmental organization Breaking the Silence has published a new report reliant upon testimonials from  soldiers who served in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. Once again, allegations of “war crimes” and misdemeanors are based on second-hand evidence and hearsay. Once again, international media outlets rushed to publish a story from another flawed source.

While the BBC gleefully pushed the story to the top of its agenda, The Independent produced a two-page center spread with a screaming headline “Israeli soldiers reveal the brutal truth of Gaza attack”. Others also covered the story, including CNN, The Guardian, Associated Press, Reuters, AFP, Financial Times, Times of London, Daily Telegraph, NPR, Toronto Star and the Globe & Mail.

The G & M’s Orly Halpern even wrote on her personal Twitter page: “I’m reading a really moving report which I will be writing about for the Globe and Mail. It makes me sick to my stomach.” Can an objective and balanced story emerge when emotions rather than facts are the driving force?

Defending the IDF operation against charges including the use of human shields, Golani Brigade commander Col. Avi Peled stated that one of the soldiers who testified in the report was not even in the field at the time: “He told his commander about a week [during] which he wasn’t even in the field. He reported about what he heard happened.”

NGO Monitor’s Dan Kosky points to the Breaking the Silence report’s central problems – flawed methodology and absence of any reasonable research standards:

By Breaking the Silence’s own admission, the allegations are comprised of “the testimony of around 30 combatants” – a fraction of the thousands of Israeli combat troops deployed during the Gaza conflict. This extremely narrow and presumably hand-picked sample is an absurd basis on which to pass judgment, and even these limited testimonies were entirely unverifiable.

All statements are anonymous, and so-called “evidence” is further compromised by the absence of any details of where and when alleged incidents occurred. Consequently, were the report intended to prompt the IDF to investigate individual allegations, Breaking the Silence has made this impossible.

The IDF has issued an initial response to Breaking the Silence that can be viewed here.

In other words, Breaking the Silence is like any other Soros-funded, far left, anti-War group.

To my mind, though, there is a difference between anti-War groups in Israel and the same groups in America.  Leftist anti-War groups in America merely wish to reconstruct America as a subservient, third-world nation.  In Israel, though, the group’s members must know, or are completely blind to, the fact that their acts invite their nation’s imminent and complete destruction.  MoveOn will cause America’s decline; Breaking the Silence will cause Israel’s death and that of all her citizens.

The actions of Breaking the Silence, and other similarly situated Israeli groups, take Jewish self-loathing to an extreme that is pretty much impossible for the rational mind to comprehend — and the world’s media laps it up.  As with Sarah Palin, the media gives up any pretense of actual investigative reporting when the information that lands in their laps aligns perfectly with their world view:  pretty, religious conservative woman is an ignorant, book-burning, devil-chasing slut; small nation besieged on all sides by genocidal enemies is a vicious, sadistic war machine that does everything it can to destroy all in its path.

This next bit is not the digression it seems to be:

When my father was a little boy, living in the Dickensian slums of Weimar Berlin, his mother had to leave town for some reason.  She made arrangements to place him with a Jewish welfare organization that would take care of children under those circumstances.  Since she wasn’t a very bright woman, she managed instead to place him with a Catholic organization that, unfortunately, was run by some very sadistic nuns.  (I like nuns in principle, by the way, because they were so good to my Mom when she was interned in Java.  These particular nuns, however, were sadists.)  Rather than police the children and punish the offenses they actually committed (if any), the nuns just beat every child severely at bedtime, on the assumption that, as children, they must have done something wrong during the day.  Within a couple of days, my father decided that, if he was going to get beaten any way, he might as well be bad.

You can see where I’m going here.  If Israel is inevitably going to be accused of using disproportionate force in any wars against the Palestinians, a sensible policy, unbounded by moral standards, would have Israel, which has the necessary fire power, actually using a scorched earth policy and getting rid of the Palestinian problem once and for all.  The fact that Gaza and the West Bank still stand, and that the citizens still live in the millions, is all the evidence one needs that the stories about Israel systematically committing atrocities are libels.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Rob Miller for information about a group of soldiers who are countering these libels.

UPDATE II:  Thanks to Robert Avrech for information that Breaking the Silence is not a grass roots movement from the Israeli Left.  Instead, it’s funded in significant part by many European governments:

In response to the claims, Breaking the Silence presented the Post with its donor list for 2008. The British Embassy in Tel Aviv gave the organization NIS 226,589; the Dutch Embassy donated €19,999; and the European Union gave Breaking the Silence €43,514.

The NGO also received funding from the New Israel Fund amounting to NIS 229,949.

In 2007, Breaking the Silence received a total of NIS 500,000, and in 2008 it managed to raise NIS 1.5 million.

There’s definitely a European trend to try to prove that, historically, Europeans weren’t really so bad to Jews, with the proof being that Jews are bad people, who are currently worse than Europeans were on their own worst days. (Sorry about the awkward writing there, but you know what I mean.)

I’m now looking for information about the New Israel Fund.  It’s an American/Israeli entity, and I wonder if I’ll find Soros’ name behind it somewhere.  Do any of you know anything about it?  It’s website shows that most of the players are “human rights activists” which, as I noted above, is inevitably code for an anti-American, anti-Israel agenda.  That’s not to say that America and Israel might not have committed abuses.  What shows the activists’ bias is that they’re never looking at or for human rights abuses committed by any other countries, especially other Middle Eastern countries.

UPDATE IIIIsrael Matzav has vast amounts of information about Breaking the Silence.  If this article at all piqued your curiousity, you must click the link and find out more about this Israel-based, anti-Israel NGO.

UPDATE IVMelanie Phillips writes about the ugly antisemitic firestorm ignited by Breaking the Silence and other European anti-Israel initiatives.

Israel blocks leftists — including McKinney — from delivery aid to Gaza

Israel stopped a contingent of Hamas supporters who tried to run a blockade bringing money and supplies into Gaza.  Cynthia McKinney figures prominently in their number:

The Israeli navy intercepted a ship carrying foreign peace activists – including a San Rafael woman – trying to break a blockade of Gaza on Tuesday and forced it to sail to an Israeli port, the military said.

A statement said the Greek-registered freighter Arion ignored a radio message from the Israeli military saying it would not be allowed to enter Gaza waters and ordering it to turn back.


Also on board (in addition to a Marin County resident) is former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire and other activists from Britain, Ireland, Bahrain and Jamaica.


Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel was planning to free the crew and passengers. “Nobody wants to keep them here,” he said. “They will be released as soon as they are checked.”

The Free Gaza Movement has organized five boat trips to Gaza since August 2008, defying a blockade imposed by Israel when the militant group Hamas seized control of the territory from its Palestinian rivals in June 2007.

This blockade running is a stunt, of course.  Unlike sieges of old, Israel is not imposing a blockade in order to cause the citizens of Gaza to experience famine and disease.  The amount of government-sanctioned money flowing into Gaza from all points of the world is staggering.   In 2009 alone, Saudi Arabia promised $58.9 million; President Obama (bless his little Leftist heart) promised a staggering $900 million; and, ‘tho I can’t find 2009 figures, as little as two years ago, Europe was giving annual aid at the 500 million Euro level.  None of this, of course, is chump change.  If the Palestinians had spent it wisely, they could have had a true Utopia.  As it is, because they are a mix of corruption and murderous hatred, they’ve created a foul dystopia.

But I digress.  Given the money that pours into Gaza, and given that Israel allows food, water and electricity to flow into that hate-filled territory, why the Israeli blockade?  Only useful idiots would fail to see that the blockade is a desperate effort to prevent arms from flowing into Gaza.  As it is, despite the blockade, Israel deals with thousands of rocket attacks annually.  One only shudders to think what would happen without a blockade.

I’m willing to believe that the useful idiots on that ship have nothing to do with arms smuggling.  Frankly, they’re too dumb to be trusted with what is, after all, a delicate task.  They are cover, pure and simple.  Hamas has discovered that there’s no better way simultaneously to hide and support their murderous agenda than to encourage the belief on the part of the credulous on the Left that Palestinians are victims of a genocidal Israel plot.  One of the hallmarks of Leftists, both those who are informed and committed, and those who are merely stupid, is the inability to realize that not all Goliaths (that is, all big guys) are bad, and not all Davids (that would be the little guys) are good.

As I’ve said time and again in this blog, it’s not enough to be little.  You have to stand for something good to be deserving of the David appellation and the world’s assistance.  Right now, there are Davids in the world, but they are the Iranian citizens facing the guns and axes of their own government in an effort to bring some small measure of freedom to their totalitarian corner of the world.

Somehow, though,  I don’t think I’ll see Cynthia McKinney and her fellow-travelers making a stand for Iranian citizens any time soon.  She takes her cue from our President, who seemingly has never met a totalitarian government he hasn’t liked.

Sen. Reid stands up to Obama *UPDATED*

Things are not going well for Mr. Obama in Washington.  (Please note the studied lack of an honorific in the way I am referring to the man in the White House.  I don’t think he worked hard enough to earn it.  The things we learn when we listen to our BabBoxer tapes.)  I mean, what in the world is he to think when even Sen. Harry Reid directly opposes him regarding Israel?

The United States needs to back off Israel a little and put some pressure [on] the Palestinians instead, US Senator and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told US President Barack Obama in a letter.


Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, wrote that he believes “negotiations will be successful only with a renewed commitment from the Palestinians to be a true partner in peace.”

“Arab states in the region must also act to support the peace process. All parties must recognize Israel’s right to exist, end terrorism, and respect previous agreements made with Israel,” he added in the letter.

Taking an opposite stance to Obama’s, Reid suggested in the letter that dealing with Iran’s nuclear program would aid in advancing the Arab-Israel peace process, rather than the other way around.

“It is… vital (the peace) process not take away from your commitment to deal with the ongoing threat from Iran… I believe that resolving the problem of Iran’s nuclear program will help facilitate the Arab-Israeli peace process,” Reid wrote.

I really didn’t think Reid had it in him. I don’t generally admire him either as a man or a politician.  However, I am impressed by and appreciate his willingness to take a stand against Obama regarding Israel’s security.

UPDATE:  Commenters, so far, aren’t impressed by what Reid did.  I am impressed on two grounds.  First, having built Obama up as the political messiah, even reading polls can’t make it that easy to turn on him.  Second, speaking of polls, the fact that Reid was willing to stand against Obama means that the wheels are coming off the Obama bus.

Palestinians plan anti-Israel “de-shelving” at Trader Joe’s on June 20th

Do you recall that, in France, Palestinians raided a grocery store and stripped the shelves of Israeli products, while store personnel and customers passively stood by and watched?  Flush with their success in France, Palestinians, and their friends, are planning on “de-shelving” Israeli products here at home, and they’ve selected Trader Joe’s as their target.

As far as I can tell, Palestinians (and their friends) are generally hostile to Trader Joe’s for its temerity in stocking Israeli products.  The pressure is on June 20th, however, because June 20th is World Refugee Day.  (Considering that it is the UN that has ensured that Palestinians have been refugees for decades, you’d think they’d simply boycott the UN, but that kind of logic seems to elude these groups.)

So far, Trader Joe’s (bless its corporate heart), is standing firm.

This letter was received by the Central Pacific office of the Anti-Defamation League from Jon Basalone,Senior VP, Marketing, Trader Joe’s:

“We have received a few letters like this via our customer relations email as well. Our response is that we sell products, and do not use our products as political tools or to make any statements about any political causes. We have no intention of removing any products based on pressure from any group, no matter what they support or don’t support. As always, we believe our customers are smart, and they are capable of making decisions about what they purchase. Let me know if you have any more questions or need more information.”

That’s the kind of attitude we like to see our American corporations show, and in this regard Trader Joe’s is proving itself to be a courageous organization deserving our praise.

And courage may really be needed.  As the episode in France demonstrates, de-shelving can be an actual physical process in which political thugs vandalize a store.  It is entirely possible, of course, to de-shelve a product by putting pressure on management not to stock that product or by stopping your own purchases of that product (and encouraging others to do the same).  As to these last two tactics, as long as the pressure isn’t illegal, they are a legitimate use of marketplace power.

People who support the state of Israel, however, can also use marketplace power.  It’s very simple:  Go to Trader Joe’s and buy products made in Israel.

Purchasing Israeli-made products at Trader Joe’s isn’t a hardship, by the way.  The Israeli products it carries are excellent ones, and can comfortably fit in any kitchen and pantry.  A non-inclusive list of products is Dorot Crushed Garlic (one of my freezer staples), Dorot Chopped Cilantro, Dorot Chopped Garlic (also a freezer staple), Holyland Matzos, Pastures of Eden Feta Imported (many people consider this to be one of the best Feta cheeses around), Trader Joes Israeli Couscous (ditto for best couscous) and Trader Joes Harvest Grains Blend.

So, if you’re in a shopping mood, on June 19th or the 20th (which is Shabbat), go to your local Trader Joe’s and make your market power felt.  And indeed, as a general matter, when you’re in a store and have a choice of imported products, think about supporting the Israeli economy.  I try to buy American when I can, but when I can’t, I’m careful about which the countries to which I like to send my money.

Grading Netanyahu’s speech

I commented on and graded Obama’s much heralded speech to the Muslim world, so I think it only fair to grade Bibi’s speech, which is directed to much the same audience (plus the western world, too).  As I did with Obama’s speech, I’m making me comments in real time, without having read ahead, so every phrase is taken on its own terms, without the benefit of subsequent information.  The summary in the next two paragraphs is something I wrote after inserting my red font comments in the speech.

I give Bibi’s speech an “A” for factual accuracy, structure, logic, and intelligent national self-interest.  Bibi sets out his goals, lays out his facts, and establishes his conditions.  Bottom line:  The precondition for any negotiations with the Palestinians is their recognition of Israel’s right to exist, coupled with an end to the killing.  If Palestinians will do that, Israel will bow to the two state solution (which will no longer be a suicide pact on Israel’s part), and it will work in every way to strengthen the Palestinian economic position.

The speech is also a very polite slap in the face to Obama.  Bibi corrects error after error in Obama’s speech, reminds everyone about modern Israel’s contributions to the world (without even mentioning the Jews’ wider contribution in terms of Western monotheism, justice and morality), and calls Obama out on his campaign promise that Jerusalem will never be divided.

Obama should be humiliated by this speech but Bibi is counting on Obama’s narcissistic egotism to isolate him from feelings of shame.  What we hope happens, though, is that Jews will realize that one man speaks truth, and one man doesn’t.

And now the speech:


Honored guests, citizens of Israel.

Peace was always the desire of our people. Our prophets had a vision of peace, we greet each other with peace, our prayers end with the word peace. This evening we are in the center named for two leaders who were groundbreakers for peace -Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat – and we share their vision.  [Elegant opening.  Let’s see where it goes.]

Two and a half months ago, I was sworn in at the Knesset as the Prime Minister of Israel. I promised that I would establish a unity government, and did so. I believed, and still believe, that we need unity now more than ever before. We are currently facing three tremendous challenges: The Iranian threat, the financial crisis, and the promotion of peace. [I like speeches that tell you what will follow.]

The Iranian threat still is before us in full force, as it became quite clear yesterday. The greatest danger to Israel, to the Middle East, and to all of humanity, is the encounter between extremist Islam and nuclear weapons. [This is calling something by it’s true name.  Interestingly, there is no invective here about “evil Iran” or, on the opposite side, the employment of euphemisms.  This is admirably straightforward.]  I discussed this with President Obama on my visit to Washington, and will be discussing it next week on my visit with European leaders. I have been working tirelessly for many years to form an international front against Iran arming itself with nuclear armaments.  [Interesting that Bibi says nothing about Obama’s response.  Absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence, but I think it’s telling that Bibi is unable to state affirmatively that he and Obama view Iran through the same lens.]

With the world financial crisis, we acted immediately to bring about stability to the Israeli economy. [And I understand that it was a market based reaction.]  We passed a two-year budget in the government and will pass it through the Knesset very soon.

The second challenge, rather, the third, so very important challenge, facing us today, is promoting peace. I discussed this also with President Obama. I strongly support the idea of regional peace that he is advancing. I share the President of the U.S.A’s desire to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region.  [I’m so glad both these leaders want peace.  Is this a genuine peace, or is Bibi being bullied into the Tacitus description of peace as reducing a civilization to a desert?  I anxiously await the specifics.]

I discussed this in my meetings with President Mubarak in Egypt and with King Abdullah in Jordan to obtain the assistance of these leaders in the effort to expand the circle of peace in our region.  [Again, one wonders how those discussions ended.]

I appeal tonight to the leaders of the Arab countries and say: Let us meet. Let us talk about peace. Let us make peace. I am willing to meet at any time, at any place, in Damascus, in Riyadh, in Beirut, and in Jerusalem as well. (Applause)  [Smart.  Positions Israel as a country willing to reach out to anyone and any nation that it is willing to work with it to promote true peace.  Also, because Bibi is a known hawk, his audience trusts that he won’t sell Israel down the river.]

I call upon the leaders of the Arab countries to join together with the Palestinians and with us to promote economic peace. Economic peace is not a substitute for peace, but it is a very important component in achieving it. Together we can advance projects that can overcome the problems facing our region. For example, water desalinization. And we can utilize the advantages of our region, such as maximizing the use of solar energy, or utilizing its geographical advantages to lay pipelines, pipelines to Africa and Europe.  [Implies that peace is possible with less pressure on natural resources.  With many enemies this might be true, as a struggle for precious resources is often a trigger for war.  Here, of course, Israel faces an enemy that seeks its existential annihilation, without regard to water rights.  The fact that the Palestinians have burned through billions of dollars without becoming economically viable suggests that the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in actual nation building.  They are religious nihilists.  So, to me, this sounds good but is functionally meaningless.]

Together we can realize the initiatives that I see in the Persian Gulf, which amaze the entire world, and also amaze me. I call upon the talented entrepreneurs of the Arab world, to come and invest here, to assist the Palestinians and us, to give the economy a jump-start. Together we can develop industrial zones, we can create thousands of jobs, and foster tourism that will draw millions, people who want to walk in the footsteps of history, in Nazareth and Bethlehem, in the heights of Jericho and on the walls of Jerusalem, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and at the baptismal site of the Jordan. There is a huge potential for the development of tourism potential here. If you only agree to work together.  [See above.]

I appeal to you, our Palestinian neighbors, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Let us begin peace negotiations immediately without prior conditions. Israel is committed to international agreements, and expects all sides to fulfill their obligations.  [Again, probably wise for Bibi to say loud and clear to the world that it’s not Israel that wants war — but that Israel expects an equal negotiating partner.]

I say to the Palestinians: We want to live with you in peace, quiet, and good neighborly relations. We want our children and your children to ‘know war no more.’  [This has always been Israel’s want.  I don’t think the world can hear this often enough.]

We do not want parents and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, to know the sorrow of bereavement. We want our children to dream of a better future for humankind. We want us and our neighbors to devote our efforts to ‘plowshares and pruning hooks’ and not to ?swords and spears?? I know the terror of war, I participated in battles, I lost good friends who fell [in battle], I lost a brother. I saw the pain of bereaved families from up close ? very many times. I do not want war. No one in Israel wants war. (Applause)  [True, although I doubt this statement will penetrate the brains of those in the West who believe that Palestinians are peace-loving and Israelis are war-mongering — all evidence to the contrary.]

Let us join hands and work together in peace, together with our neighbors. There is no limit to the flourishing growth that we can achieve for both peoples – in the economy, in agriculture, in commerce, tourism, education – but, above all, in the ability to give our younger generation hope to live in a place that?s good to live in, a life of creative work, a peaceful life with much of interest, with opportunity and hope.  [Ditto to all of the above comments re Bibi’s reiterated desire for peace.]

Friends, with the advantages of peace so clear, so obvious, we must ask ourselves why is peace still so far from us, even though our hands are extended for peace? Why has the conflict going on for over 60 years? To bring an end to it, there must be a sincere, genuine answer to the question: what is the root of the conflict? In his speech at the Zionist Congress in Basel, in speaking of his grand vision of a Jewish homeland for the Jewish People, Theodor Herzl, the visionary of the State of Israel, said: This is so big, we must talk about it only in the simplest words possible.  [Good question.  What’s Bibi’s answer.]

I now am asking that when we speak of the huge challenge of peace, we must use the simplest words possible, using person to person terms. Even with our eyes on the horizon, we must have our feet on the ground, firmly rooted in truth. The simple truth is that the root of the conflict has been ? and remains – the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish People to its own state in its historical homeland.  [Yes.  This is the answer.  This is an absolute truth, and explains why Bibi spent 7 paragraphs going on about Israel’s desire for peace and her willingness to work towards it.  The problem is the Arab/Muslim refusal to recognize Israel.  Jews will compromise by granting miles here and miles there, but to Arabs/Muslims there is no compromise:  Israel must be destroyed.]

In 1947 when the United Nations proposed the Partition Plan for a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the proposal, while the Jewish community accepted it with great rejoicing and dancing. The Arabs refused any Jewish state whatsoever, with any borders whatsoever.  [Correct.  Bibi doesn’t need to make up this fact.]

Whoever thinks that the continued hostility to Israel is a result of our forces in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is confusing cause and effect. The attacks on us began in the 1920s, became an overall attack in 1948 when the state was declared, continued in the 1950s with the fedaayyin attacks, and reached their climax in 1967 on the eve of the Six-Day War, with the attempt to strangle Israel. All this happened nearly 50 years before a single Israeli soldier went into Judea and Samaria.  [Correct — and a pointed message to Obama and others who imply otherwise.  Once again, Bibi can rely on real facts to support his thesis.  He doesn’t need to make anything up.]

To our joy, Egypt and Jordan left this circle of hostility. They signed peace agreements with us which ended their hostility to Israel. It brought about peace.  [Well, aside from Egypt’s fomenting of violent antisemitic hatred true “peace,” he is correct. Egypt has honored its territorial promises.]

To our deep regret, this is not happening with the Palestinians. The closer we get to a peace agreement with them, the more they are distancing themselves from peace. They raise new demands. They are not showing us that they want to end the conflict.  [Factually accurate again.  It’s fascinating how, unlike Obama, Bibi doesn’t need to make up facts to make his point.]

A great many people are telling us that withdrawal is the key to peace with the Palestinians. But the fact is that all our withdrawals were met by huge waves of suicide bombers.  [And another factually accurate statement.]

We tried withdrawal by agreement, withdrawal without an agreement, we tried partial withdrawal and full withdrawal. In 2000, and once again last year, the government of Israel, based on good will, tried a nearly complete withdrawal, in exchange for the end of the conflict, and were twice refused.  [Boy!  Bibi just keeps spilling one truth after another, supporting his contention that one side (that would be Israel) does everything it can for peace and the other side (that would be the Palestinians) keeps raising the bar.]

We withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the last centimeter, we uprooted dozens of settlements and turned thousands of Israelis out of their homes. In exchange, what we received were missiles raining down on our cities, our towns and our children. The argument that withdrawal would bring peace closer did not stand up to the test of reality.  [True — and reality is an awfully good standard by which to measure a theory’s virtue.]

With Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north, they keep on saying that they want to ‘liberate’ Ashkelon in the south and Haifa and Tiberias.  [Accurate, again.]

Even the moderates among the Palestinians are not ready to say the most simplest things: The State of Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish People and will remain so. (Applause)  [Nailed it.]

Friends, in order to achieve peace, we need courage and integrity on the part of the leaders of both sides. I am speaking today with courage and honesty. We need courage and sincerity not only on the Israeli side: we need the Palestinian leadership to rise and say, simply “We have had enough of this conflict. We recognize the right of the Jewish People to a state its own in this Land. We will live side by side in true peace.” I am looking forward to this moment.  [Good rhetorical stand.  I am willing to be brave.  Bring forward a Palestinian leader who will match me.  He also knows that this statement commits him to nothing, because no such Palestinian leader will step forward.  The current leadership is committed entirely to Israel’s destruction.]

We want them to say the simplest things, to our people and to their people. This will then open the door to solving other problems, no matter how difficult. The fundamental condition for ending the conflict is the public, binding and sincere Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish People. (Applause)  [This is absolutely an excellent condition to place on the Palestinians.  Palestinian leadership over the years has lied, broken promises, and prevaricated, but even the most duplicitous leader has not been able to force over his tongue the words “Israel has the right to exist.”]

For this to have practical meaning, we need a clear agreement to solve the Palestinian refugee problem outside of the borders of the State of Israel. For it is clear to all that the demand to settle the Palestinian refugees inside of Israel, contradicts the continued existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish People. We must solve the problem of the Arab refugees. And I believe that it is possible to solve it. Because we have proven that we ourselves solved a similar problem. Tiny Israel took in the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were uprooted from their homes.  [Good paragraph.  Rejects the right of return (which Israel must do), and reminds the world that Israel, teeny Israel, absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jews ejected from Arab countries seeking to make themselves Judenrein.]

Therefore, justice and logic dictates that the problem of the Palestinian refugees must be solved outside the borders of the State of Israel. There is broad national agreement on this. (Applause)  [He stated his facts, and presented the only logical conclusion.  As a lawyer, I like this way of speaking.]

I believe that with good will and international investment of we can solve this humanitarian problem once and for all.  [Yeah, like that’s going to happen.  The international investment will continue to shower money without condition on the Palestinians, rewarding them for their hatred and intransigence.]

Friends, up to now, I have been talking about the need for the Palestinians to recognize our rights. Now I will talk about the need for us to recognize their rights.  [It’s smart that Bibi positioned this concession at this point in this speech.  Instead of starting with the self-abasement, as Obama would do, he stated Israel’s goals, made a demand from the opposite party and then promised a return should the opposite party abide by really quite limited preconditions.  In other words, in terms of the speech’s structure, Bibi did not commit Israel to recognize a Palestinian state unless Palestinians accept that Israel has the right to exist in the first place.]

The connection of the Jewish People to the Land has been in existence for more than 3,500 years. Judea and Samaria, the places where our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked, our forefathers David, Solomon, Isaiah and Jeremiah ? this is not a foreign land, this is the Land of our Forefathers. (Applause)  [A direct refutation of Obama’s statement to the effect that the Jews got Israel from Europe as a consolation prize for their slaughter in the Holocaust.  Obama’s worldview implies that the Jews could have been sent anywhere, and that it’s not fair to the Arabs that they got stuck with this religiously unclean group of people.]

The right of the Jewish People to a state in the Land of Israel does not arise from the series of disasters that befell the Jewish People over 2,000 years — persecutions, expulsions, pogroms, blood libels, murders, which reached its climax in the Holocaust, an unprecedented tragedy in the history of nations. There are those who say that without the Holocaust the State would not have been established, but I say that if the State of Israel had been established in time, the Holocaust would not have taken place. (Applause) The tragedies that arose from the Jewish People?s helplessness show very sharply that we need a protective state.  [Ditto.]

The right to establish our sovereign state here, in the Land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: Eretz Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish People. (Applause)  [Ditto.  What he could say, but didn’t, is that Jews have inhabited the land far longer than either Arabs or Muslims.]

As the first PM David Ben Gurion in the declaration of the State, the State of Israel was established here in Eretz Israel, where the People of Israel created the Book of Books, and gave it to the world.  [Ditto.]

But, friends, we must state the whole truth here. The truth is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish Homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians. We do not want to rule over them. We do not want to run their lives. We do not want to force our flag and our culture on them. In my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor?s security and existence.  [This vision is acceptable at this point in the speech because it follows, rather than precedes, a demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel and cease constant warfare against the Jewish people.]

These two facts ? our link to the Land of Israel, and the Palestinian population who live here, have created deep disagreements within Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more unity than disagreement.  [Acknowledgment of political realities.  Let’s see where he goes with it.]

I came here tonight to talk about the agreement and security that are broad consensus within Israeli society. This is what guides our policy. This policy must take into account the international situation. We have to recognize international agreements but also principles important to the State of Israel. I spoke tonight about the first principle – recognition. Palestinians must truly recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is demilitarization. Any area in Palestinian hands has to be demilitarization, with solid security measures. Without this condition, there is a real fear that there will be an armed Palestinian state which will become a terrorist base against Israel, as happened in Gaza. We do not want missiles on Petah Tikva, or Grads on the Ben-Gurion international airport. We want peace. (Applause)  [Absolutely rock solid.  Everything demand here arises naturally from the accurate facts he stated previously.  This is the logical culmination of his two rhetorical threads; namely that Israel wants peace and Palestinians must give up their drive for Israel’s destruction.]

And, to ensure peace we don?t want them to bring in missiles or rockets or have an army, or control of airspace, or make treaties with countries like Iran, or Hizbullah. There is broad agreement on this in Israel. We cannot be expected to agree to a Palestinian state without ensuring that it is demilitarized. This is crucial to the existence of Israel ? we must provide for our security needs.  [This statement is good domestic politics:  “All of us in Israel, regardless of politics, want to stop being targeted for death.”]

This is why we are now asking our friends in the international community, headed by the USA, for what is necessary for our security, that in any peace agreement, the Palestinian area must be demilitarized. No army, no control of air space. Real effective measures to prevent arms coming in, not what?s going on now in Gaza. The Palestinians cannot make military treaties.  [I wonder if, with this statement, he’s publicly calling out Barack Obama.]

Without this, sooner or later, we will have another Hamastan. We can?t agree to this. Israel must govern its own fate and security. I told President Obama in Washington, if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state. (Applause)  [Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence, but it’s again telling that Bibi reports what he told Obama, but fails to report that Obama agreed.]

Whenever we discuss a permanent arrangement, Israel needs defensible borders with Jerusalem remaining the united capital of Israel. (Applause)  [This again calls out the Obama.  As you may recall, when running for President, Obama promised Jews he would never seek to divide Jerusalem (although I pointed out the dubious nature of that promise almost a year ago), and who has backed off this promise completely.  As for the defensible borders, all nations need defensible borders and Israel shouldn’t even be forced to insist on this.]

The territorial issues will be discussed in a permanent agreement. Till then we have no intention to build new settlements or set aside land for new settlements. But there is a need to have people live normal lives and let mothers and fathers raise their children like everyone in the world. The settlers are not enemies of peace. They are our brothers and sisters. (Applause)  [Bibi stuck to his guns on this one.  He will allow normal growth in the settlements.  This is another polite thumb on the nose to the Obama administration.]

Friends, unity among us is, to my view, vital, and unity will help with reconciliation with our neighbors. Reconciliation must begin now. A strong Palestinian government will strengthen peace. If they truly want peace, and educate their children for peace and stop incitement, we for our part will make every effort, allow them freedom of movement and accessibility, making their lives easier and this will help bring peace.  [“Palestinians:  if you stop killing us, we will give you access to our free society.”  Sounds like a fair deal to me.]

But above all, they must decide: the Palestinians must decide between path of peace and path of Hamas. They must overcome Hamas. Israel will not sit down at conference table with terrorist who seek to destroy it. (Applause)  [This is another nose-thumbing to Obama, who welcomes Hamas to the discussion.]

Hamas are not willing to even let the Red Cross visit our abducted soldier Gilad Shalit who has been in captivity three years, cut off from his family and his country. We want to bring him back whole and well.
With help of the international community, there is no reason why we can?t have peace. With help of USA, we can do we can do the unbelievable. In 61 years, with constant threats to our existence we have achieved so much. Our microchips power the worlds computers unbelievable, we have found cures for incurable diseases. Israeli drip irrigation waters barren lands throughout the world. Israeli researchers are making worldwide breakthroughs. If our neighbors only work for peace, we can achieve peace. (Applause)  [We are a nation among nations.  Treat us as one.]

I call upon Arab leaders and Palestinian leaders: Let?s go in the path of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Let?s go in the path of Prophet Isaiah, who spoke thousands of years ago, they shall beat their swords into plowshares and know war no more.

Let us know war no more. Let us know peace

Is Obama already playing hardball with Israel? *UPDATED*

Reader David Foster brought to my attention an article in the World Tribune which says Obama is refusing to give Israel helicopters that it requested:

The Obama administration has blocked Israel’s request for advanced U.S.-origin attack helicopters.

Government sources said the administration has held up Israel’s request for the AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter. The sources said the request was undergoing an interagency review to determine whether additional Longbow helicopters would threaten Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.

“During the recent war, Israel made considerable use of the Longbow, and there were high civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip,” a source close to the administration said.

The sources said Israel has sought to purchase up to six new AH-64Ds in an effort to bolster conventional and counter-insurgency capabilities. They said Israel wants to replenish its fleet after the loss of two Apache helicopters in the 2006 war with Hizbullah.

You can read the rest of the story here.

David says he hasn’t seen this story anywhere else.  Intrigued, I fired off an email to those bloggers I know who have connections to the military and intelligence community.  I’ll keep you posted as I get information on this one.  The Confederate Yankee is taking it seriously, and is shocked by what it tells us about the Obama Administration’s short-sighted Middle Eastern policy.

Incidentally, I’ve realized that, just as Democrats have a litmus test in being pro-Choice on abortion, I have a litmus test too:  Israel.  Frame the question this way:  Who do you side with — a democratic regime that grants equal rights to minorities, all faiths, women and gays or a totalitarian regime that tortures, enslaves, kills and exiles all minorities, all but one religion, women and gays?  Put that way, you manage to cut through the crap about the “victims” in the latter regime (who are primarily victims of their own government, not of the former regime) or about imperalism or about “just wanting to live in peace.”  Obama is failing my litmus test, big time.

UPDATE:  I got some email from a good authority — but one I cannot identify — saying that people in the know don’t know about this one.

Has Obama already written the history books?

I haven’t seen the context in which Obama made the reported statement and, really, I don’t want to, because the AP report — which is a mere one sentence in length — seems to encapsulate everything we know about the man.  Here is the entire AP report:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Obama to Israeli leader: capitalize on “historic opportunity” to restart Mideast peace talks.

Without knowing more, you’ve just got to believe that Obama views himself as the “historic opportunity.”  After all, nothing has changed on the ground.  The only significant difference in the world (as opposed to merely “more of the same,” whether in Gaza or the West Bank, or even in Iran, Pakistan, Europe or Russia) is Obama’s election.

Relying on facts on the ground, without the benefit of an Obamian gloss, the above report means that Obama is advancing himself as the game changer.  His presence on the earth will make the lion lie down with the lamb.  No surprise, I guess.  He assured us all that “we [royal we?] are the change we’ve been waiting for.”  He promised us that rising waters would fall and that all sorts of other beautiful metaphysical things would take place upon his election.

Pragmatic egotism or insane delusion?  I guess history, the real history, rather than Obama’s anticipatory version, will tell.

Who’s the victim?

Rick Richman gives one of the most succinct explanations I’ve ever seen for the fallacy behind the Leftist desire to assign victim status to the Palestinians.

Hamas’ “Heroes” — and the need for total victory over evil

I have an embarrassing confession to make:  When I was young, one of my favorite shows was Hogan’s Heroes.  I found it a weekly marvel to see the dashing, clever Colonel Hogan run rings around the Germans.  Nor was I at all perturbed by the asymmetry of it all, with the Germans portrayed as bumbling nincompoops, as compared to the ridiculously accomplished POWs.  To me, it seemed eminently logical that the good guys would be smart and competent, while the bad guys would be yahoos — evil, but still yahoos.

As I child, good and competent versus evil and incompetent seemed like a fair fight. And I still think that way.

I mention this all because of the usual cries of outrage about the asymmetry in Israel’s attack on Gaza.  The thinking on the Left (and you can see it in a thousand op-ed and news stories from America and the rest of the world) is that Israel, because she is vastly more efficient and effective when it comes to warfare, should not fight back.  “It’s not fair!” is the cry that is raised when Israel, having suffered through thousands of rocket attacks, finally says “Enough” and goes in with surgical precision to remove the rocket launchers and the men who fire them.  The usual suspects, even those who concede that Hamas is an exceptionally malevolent organization, just can’t stomach the sight of bad men — men whose entire life purpose is the slaughter of innocents — themselves getting killed.

I see things entirely differently.  In the case of Hamas, evil is measured by intent and acts.  Members of Hamas have as their stated goal the desire to kill as many Israelis (especially vulnerable civilians) as possible.  Their acts are entirely consistent with those goals.  For months now, they have fired as many missiles as they possibly could into Israel.  The know that what they lack in ability will eventually be made up for by sheer volume and dumb luck.  (As an aside, keep in mind that a large part of the Soviet strategy against the Germans was to force the Germans to use up time and munitions against the millions of bodies, so many tragically unarmed and untrained, that the Soviets kept throwing in their path.)  The evil that is Hamas is made even more manifest by the fact that, to offset their incompetency, the Hamas soldiers hide amongst the women and children.  If you can’t be efficient, be diligent and surround yourself by soft camouflage, right?

Because Hamas is devoted to evil acts, it should not be rewarded for its ineptitude.  It is entirely appropriate that it be defeated.  It’s ludicrous, therefore, for the world to argue that the only appropriate way to defeat Hamas is to approach it with an equal degree of primitive weaponry and inefficient tactics.  That way lies madness.

Sadly, though, Israel itself buys into this madness.  A moral country, she is horrified by the depravity into which Hamas (or Hezbollah) pulls her and, every time, when she is on the cusp of a determinative outcome, she pulls back to save the innocents.  One has to ask, though, how many innocents (by which I mean children, who have no control over the situation in which they find themselves) are ultimately saved if Israel repeatedly leaves enough of Hamas standing so that it can regroup and continue its self-imposed apocalyptic battle?  Sometimes, total conquest is the most merciful end to a battle.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m reading Rabbi Joseph Teluskin’s Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events, and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible.  He recounts God’s mandate when the Jews left the desert and entered Canaan:  kill all the Canaanites.  To modern sensibilities, this is a horrific directive, and one with which modern Jews and Christians have struggled mightily.  Yes, it was the normative approach to conquest three thousand years ago and, yes, God mandated it, but those two explanations don’t assauge our distress at the death of the innocents.  I do think, though, that there is a certain pure logic in it, a logic that arises once one decides, for whatever reason, to conquer a land.

Keep in mind that we’re not talking border or territory skirmishes when I say this.  Instead, we’re talking about conquest.  The Jews conquered Canaan because it was their God promised land.  The Allies conquered Germany and Japan because those two nations, having started the war, made it apparent that only complete conquest would end it.  And Israel, clinging to her 300 x 150 mile patch of land, considers herself already the conqueror having won the land through purchase, League of Nations Directives, UN mandates, and the spoils of previous defensive wars.

The fact is, you cannot be said to have conquered a land — you cannot remake it in your own image — if there remains a critical mass of hostile indigenous people.  The Bible shows that, despite God’s mandate, the Jews did not kill all the Baal worshipping Canaanites, and these people proved to be a practical, military and moral thorn in Israel’s flesh for centuries to come.  Conversely, the Allies did defeat a critical mass of the indigenous people in Germany and Japan and were able to rebuild both countries as strong Democratic entitities.  And modern Israel, repeating the errors or her Biblical forbearers, has “conquered” a land without ever having taken it over.  Her morals are exemplary; her tactics, less so.

My thinking is now, as it was when I watched Hogan’s heroes:  that evil is incompetent is a blessing and should not be treated as a curse.  It also doesn’t give evil a pass.  If you have visited your moral compass, if you truly believe that the opposing party is not merely misguided but genuinely evil and determined on your destruction, and if you decide that the only way to deal with that opposing party is warfare — YOU MUST WIN THAT WAR.  There is no middle ground of compromise.  There is only victory.  As the Allies showed after WWII, victory can be incredibly magnanimous, must you must have victory before you have magnanimity.  Do it backwards, and your ass is cooked.

Is it hard to be this stupid? *UPDATED*

A local Marin woman hitched a ride with a peace group to stay with some Palestinians, and came back filled with useful information.  Anna Rogers found “shocking . . . how much Arab land has been taken over and how crazily restrictive it is for the Palestinians.”  That’s an interesting thing to say, of course, since in the last few years, Israel has been giving land back to the Palestinians.  So considering that this is apparently her first trip to the Middle East, when she refers to being shocked at “how much Arab land has been taken over” she must mean “since the creation of Israel.” Or, in other words — Israelis should just get the Hell out of there.

As for the crazy restrictions, Rogers also thought it was so, so unfair that these poor Palestinians couldn’t move around freely.  The article in which she is interviewed helpfully advises that there’s some kind rumor about these same Palestinians killing Israelis:  “The Israeli government has said it established checkpoints to protect settlements from suicide bombers and other attackers.”  (In a sane journalistic world, rather than attributing this statement to the Israeli government, as if it’s factually suspect, the reporter might actually have pointed out that it is in fact true that a huge number of Palestinians, trained from the cradle, are determined to kill Israeli civilians.)

Ms. Rogers is having none of this stupid Israeli government propaganda.  She’s seen what’s going on in Israel with her own eyes, and assures us that it’s nothing to worry about:

Rogers said she visited a kibbutz near where rockets from Gaza are landing. She said the rockets are crude and usually miss their targets.

“They’re an annoyance,” Rogers said. “I think a lot of people were annoyed with Israel’s government for not making some kind of peace agreement with Gaza even though Hamas is there.”

Although I’m not thrilled about the reporter’s passive approach to the reason behind the Israeli checkpoints (see my comments, above), he gets full kudos for providing an opposing point of view.  Thus, at the end of the article, a spokesman for a local Jewish group provides an intelligent counterpoint to Ms. Rogers’ insane blatherings:

But Michael Harris of San Rafael, one of the leaders of San Francisco Voice for Israel, a local advocacy group, said the situation constitutes more than “an annoyance.”

“I don’t think the residents of Larkspur would consider it a nuisance if 20 rockets a day were launched from Corte Madera into Larkspur. [The two communities are side by side.]  Bad aim does not excuse that these rockets are designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to murder civilians.”

Harris noted that “Gaza is ruled by Hamas, which took over in a coup and has stated on multiple occasions that it has no interest whatsoever in peace with Israel. Its entire existence is predicated on the destruction of Israel.”

I find it impossible to come up with any excuse for Ms. Rogers’ attitude, which is that Israelis should just stand aside and let themselves be killed so that those nice Palestinians can . . . well, kill some more.  What’s even more insane about her view is that, while in Gaza, she stayed with a Christian family, and yet somehow managed to remain entirely unaware of the horrors Muslim Gazans visit on their Christian compatriots.  This is a lady whose head is firmly fixed in an ideological bubble, and she’s doing her best to spread her ignorance.

UPDATE:  A few more of those “nuisances” rained down on Israel last night:

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip bombarded southern Israel with dozens of mortars and rockets on Wednesday, sowing panic and despair there and burdening diplomatic efforts to revive an expired truce.

Ironically, while no Israelis were injured, those poor “militants” suffered some Ayers-ian accidents:

No Israelis were injured in the barrages. The attacks took a steeper toll in Gaza as explosives apparently misfired, wounding three civilians and killing two militants. One of the injured civilians works for a conflict resolution center.

A trio on why moral relativism re Israel is morally wrong

I don’t have much time to write now, but I read a trio of stories at the Jerusalem Post that remind us why moral relativism regarding Israel is wrong.  Israel, for all her flaws, is a better, more moral country that the surrounding Arab nations, and that’s regardless of any of their virtues:

Another Arab resident in Israel used his vehicle to try for mass slaughter.  Fortunately, he was the only one to die.

An Arab woman crossing at a checkpoint into Israel threw acid on a soldier, potentially blinding him in one eye.  Keep in mind that the check points exist precisely because those crossing into Israel (by the grace of Israel, because no Israelis are crossing into Arab countries) are trying to achieve maximum bodily arm.

And just so you keep in perspective what these Arab countries are all about, let’s look at Iraq, which is a country that America has sort of, kind of, managed to turn into a Democracy:

First his two sons were murdered. Now he faces prosecution. The reason for Mithal al-Alusi’s troubles? Visiting Israel and advocating peace with the Jewish state – something Iraq’s leaders refuse to consider.

The Iraqi is at the center of a political storm after his fellow lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to strip him of his immunity and allow his prosecution for visiting Israel – a crime punishable by death under a 1950s-era law. Such a fate is unlikely for al-Alusi, though he may lose his party’s sole seat in parliament.

Because he had visited Israel, many Iraqis assume the maverick legislator was the real target of the assassins who killed his sons in 2005 while he escaped unharmed.

Now he is in trouble for again visiting Israel and attending a conference a week ago at the International Institute for Counterterrorism.

“He wasn’t set to speak, but he was in the audience and conversed with a lecturer on a panel about insurgency and terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel,” said conference organizer Eitan Azani. “We didn’t invite him. He came on his own initiative.”

Al-Alusi has a German passport, allowing him to travel without visa restrictions imposed on other Iraqis. Lawmakers accused him of humiliating the nation with a trip to the “enemy” state.

Keep in mind as you read the above that it is just one day’s news from the Middle East, and just a small handful of stories about Israel and her neighbors’ attitude towards her.

Let me reiterate the sentence at the start of my post:  Israel, for all her flaws, is a better, more moral country that the surrounding Arab nations, and that’s regardless of any of their virtues.

She’s not even a useful idiot

Instead, Lauren Booth, Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, is a useless idiot — and I say this because, unlike the situation with the normal apologists for foul regimes, the obvious and known facts are so at variance with her pronouncements that no one can believe her.

(Having said that, I know that Israel’s foes are comprised in significant part of equally useless idiots who will be unfazed by the vast chasm separating her statements from manifest reality.)

Why Israel won’t share

Aside from the fact that Israel faces existential destruction if she gives in to the “Let’s just share Israel between Palestians and Jews” attitude, she knows that she faces something equally bad:  the Muslim habit of destroying or desecrating Jewish religious symbols, something they did on a grand scale before the 1967 War liberated Jerusalem, and something they’re still doing now.  Put simply, these are not nice people, and only a fool turns his house over to a boor with a killer instinct.

A backlog of links

Even thought I didn’t and couldn’t post yesterday, it didn’t mean I wasn’t paying attention.  I have a whole bunch of links I want to share with you.  I won’t take too much time on any one link, because I have only a short time before the Mom stuff starts again (summer, you know), but here goes:

If you haven’t yet read Jonah Goldberg on Obama’s postmodern deconstructionist style of communicating, you must.

If you haven’t yet read John Hawkin’s humorous and humane ideas for dealing with friends and families who haven’t yet made their personal journey to conservatism, you must.

If you haven’t yet learned that the Democrats seem compulsively drawn to old fashioned Communist symbolism, you can read more about that here.

You probably already read Andrew Breitbart’s column about the struggles conservatives have in Hollywood.  Coincidentally, it came out the same day that Jon Voight’s op-ed critique of mindless Hollywood liberalism was published.  In his most recent column, Breitbart takes on the mean-spirited, intellectually foolish and, yes, McCarthy-esque responses Voight’s column generated in Hollywood.

AJStrata launches a funny, yet pointed, attack on Barry the Cable Guy’s utterly unprincipled “get ‘er done” philosophy, which sees him saying or doing anything it takes to get to the big White House.

I commented yesterday on the wonderful pun in Soccer Dad used to title his post called Hello martyr, hello Fatah.  Elder of Ziyon took the sick tragedy underlying that pun and created a brilliantly sad/funny video.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend *UPDATED*

Sometimes, the bizarre nature of the Middle East defies description (all emphasis mine):

Nine Palestinians were killed and dozens hurt in battles in Gaza City between forces of the rival Hamas and Fatah movements on Saturday, prompting Israel to open its border to fleeing Fatah members.

The fighting, which lasted most of the day, was sparked when Hamas security forces tried to arrest suspects thought to be behind a July 25 bombing that killed five Hamas militants and a little girl on a Gaza beach.

Hamas blames Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas for the attack, but the secular group denies any involvement. Over the past week the two sides have engaged in tit-for-tat spates of arrests.

Hamas said two of its men were killed and medical officials reported seven more dead, mainly civilians, in Saturday’s firefights that broke out around a house belonging to the influential pro-Fatah Helis clan in the Shujwa neighbourhood of Gaza City.

More than 90 people were also wounded, including seven reported to be in a serious condition, the medical sources said.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri charged that members of the Helis family and other unidentified associates had “fired mortar rounds at the Hamas police as well as a rocket at Gaza City” from inside the Shujwa house.

Several members of the Helis clan “are responsible” for the deadly July 25 bomb attack and Hamas is determined to round up the suspects, Abu Zuhri told AFP.

But Adel Helis, a Fatah leader, denied clan members opened fire on Hamas.

“These are lies. We never fired rockets or mortar rounds. Hamas is the one committing crimes. We have asked all the Palestinian factions, Islamists and nationalists, to use their influence so that these crimes cease,” he said.

Clan leader Ahmad Helis told AFP that Hamas militants “laid siege to our house, firing mortar rounds… targeting our women and our children.

The two main Palestinian factions have been deeply divided since Hamas expelled Abbas’s security forces from Gaza in a week of bloody street battles in June 2007, cleaving the territories into rival entities.

Abbas himself called Ahmed Helis “to express his support and denounce the Hamas attack,” according to a statement by Abbas’s office.

The Palestinian president also told Helis that “Hamas’s attacks undermine my call for national dialogue between Palestinian factions.”

Shortly after the fighting subsided, dozens of Fatah members, including Ahmed and Adel Helis, fled to the Nahal Oz crossing with Israel in a bid to escape to the West Bank city of Ramallah, home to Abbas’s headquarters.

Israel allowed a total of 150 Palestinians who put down their guns to cross as a “humanitarian measure,” an army spokesman said. The wounded were taken to hospital and the rest were transported to Ramallah.

Israel’s Magen David Adom medical services treated six Palestinians for serious wounds and three more who were lightly injured, spokesman Zaki Heller said.

Funnily enough, no one in the wider world seems to be outraged by the women and children who are being killed, not as collateral damage, but as direct targets.  Equally funnily (do you hear me laughing?), no one seems to be impressed by Israel’s graciousness.  This is another reminder, if one needs it, that to the Left, it’s never been about humanitarianism and “the children.”  It’s always about Israel’s special, evil status in their eyes.

UPDATE: And now they’re going back home again, apparently at Abbas’ request (I guess he needs his fighters home, and not hiding in Israel).

What prisoner swap?

I’ve been moving around the internet a bit looking at stories about the way in which Israel turned a brutal, mass murderer over in exchange for two bodies.  What’s fascinating is that the stories keep calling it a “prisoner swap,” as if there’s parity in the exchange.  Prisoner swap, after all, implies that Israel gave prisoners and Israel got prisoners — living ones.  Instead, all that Israel got were two bodies, and it’s still unclear to me whether they were dead all along, in which case Hezbollah engaged in a massive and extraordinarily successful bluff, or whether the poor boys were killed (and, I bet, tortured) during their captivity.

Here are some examples of this “prisoner swap” language, including one from an Israeli paper:

From the British Telegraph: Israel and Hizbollah complete controversial prisoner exchange

From Israel’s YNet news (although I think the prisoner swap might be a heading that simply refers to the whole history of news stories about this sordid transaction):  Prisoner Exchange

From the Spiegel: Israel’s Delicate Prisoner Swap with Hezbollah (although it has the alternative caption of “two coffins for a murderer”)

The New York Times, which always gets ambiguous when it comes to Israel reporting, says “Israel frees prisoners in deal with Hezbollah.”

The Christian Science Monitor says that “Despite delays, prisoner swap leaves Hezbollah emboldened.”

The UK Times Online at least puts sarcastic quotations around the word “prisoner”:  Israel and Hezbollah “prisoner” exchange.

And so on.

Interestingly, only the Guardian had the reportorial honesty to call this what it was:  Killer released in Israeli bodies swap.

In a way, and for once, the MSM is using story captions that favor Israel.  When one reads the Guardian’s caption, one realizes what a terrible deal Israel made.  It’s terrible not just because of this particular deal.  It’s also terrible because of the precedent it sets.  Hezbollah, Hamas and Fatah have now lost all incentive to keep prisoners alive.  Dead Jewish bodies have suddenly become an incredibly valuable commodity.

Think of it:  Israel used to have a policy that it would not ransom hostages so that there would be no incentive to take hostages.  Then, it started ransoming hostages, so there was an incentive for the terrorists to take them, but a concurrent burden on the terrorists to keep them alive.  Now, the whole game has changed:  the terrorists can kidnap and kill, and still get ransom.

Israel used to win because she was tough, smart and principled.  She’s going to lose now — and lose on a scope inconceivable even with the flames of the Holocaust still burned on our retinas — because she’s become indescribably stupid.

All the news that’s fit to print *UPDATED*

Palestinians and Hezbollah are wildly celebrating the release of a great Lebanese hero, Samir Kuntar, from Israeli prison.  Their excitement matches that felt in South Africa when Nelson Mandela was finally released.  Nelson Mandela, of course, was a principled man who spoke up against apartheid and was imprisoned for exercising his freedom of speech against that terrible regime.

If you’d like to know what Kuntar did to earn his countrymen’s adulation, here’s the story, as described by an eyewitness, Smadar Haran Kaiser:

It had been a peaceful Sabbath day. My husband, Danny, and I had picnicked with our little girls, Einat, 4, and Yael, 2, on the beach not far from our home in Nahariya, a city on the northern coast of Israel, about six miles south of the Lebanese border.

Around midnight, we were asleep in our apartment when four terrorists, sent by Abu Abbas from Lebanon, landed in a rubber boat on the beach two blocks away. Gunfire and exploding grenades awakened us as the terrorists burst into our building. They had already killed a police officer.

As they charged up to the floor above ours, I opened the door to our apartment. In the moment before the hall light went off, they turned and saw me. As they moved on, our neighbor from the upper floor came running down the stairs. I grabbed her and pushed her inside our apartment and slammed the door.

Outside, we could hear the men storming about. Desperately, we sought to hide. Danny helped our neighbor climb into a crawl space above our bedroom; I went in behind her with Yael in my arms. Then Danny grabbed Einat and was dashing out the front door to take refuge in an underground shelter when the terrorists came crashing into our flat.

They held Danny and Einat while they searched for me and Yael, knowing there were more people in the apartment. I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. “This is just like what happened to my mother,” I thought.

As police began to arrive, the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl’s skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.

By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her. (Emphasis mine.)

You can tell a lot about a culture by its choice of heroes, can’t you?  I’m suddenly less embarrassed by the American propensity to elevate to hero status basketball players and rock stars.  At least they don’t have children’s blood on their hands.

As for the caption for this post, it comes from the way in which the New York Times, reporting on Kuntar’s release, decided to educate its readers about the crime that resulted in his imprisonment:

Perhaps Israel’s most reviled prisoner, Samir Kuntar, will return to a hero’s welcome when he crosses into Lebanon this week, 29 years after he left its shores in a rubber dinghy to kidnap Israelis from the coastal town of Nahariya.

That raid went horribly wrong, leaving five people dead, a community terrorized and a nation traumatized. Two Israeli children and their father were among those killed.

I hope you appreciate the way in which the Times used passive voice there.  It was just a dreadful coincidence that, without any human intervention, two kids and their dad were dead.  In Times-land, the raiders have no moral connection to the fact that a 4-year old’s father was shot in front of her and then her head was smashed against a rock.  While the Times can spare endless space to report on the horrors of kids accidentally killed because the Palestinians encourage them to play on rocket launchers, it suddenly finds itself incapable of explaining to its readers just why the average Israeli might be a tad distraught about the Olmert government’s latest decision.

I guess you can also tell a lot about a country, or at least a political ideology, based on the way its free media spins a story.  And this does embarrass me.

Hat tip: Best of the Web

UPDATEAnd all that Israel got in exchange was two bodies.

I should add here that, insofar as I have an extremely limited knowledge of Jewish tradition, the body is very important.  Religious Jews don’t cremate their dead because an inviolate corpse is the preferred condition for the end of the world.

A friend once explained to me that this prohibition against any violation of the body was a reaction to the pagan practice of sacrificial deaths and corpse desecration.  (In the same way, the Jewish practice of speedy burial was both an attempt to protect Jewish bodies from pagans and a practical response to a hot climate.)  This prosaic origin, however, morphed into a spiritually significant practice.

Despite the religious importance Jews impart to an intact body, though, I still have a problem with a nation doing what Israel did for the sake of those two bodies.  After all, I have great faith that, at the end of days, God will be able to sort things out, and that those two poor boys will be given their due in the afterlife.  In that same vein, I have no doubt that the souls of those who were incinerated in Auschwitz will readily find their way to God.  Perhaps some things are better left to God, and the Israeli government would have done better to leave this one alone, family anguish notwithstanding.

The rabbis were right *UPDATED*

In a post I did yesterday about the way in which liberals cherry-pick religious writings to support their ideological viewpoints, I discussed Rabbi Gamliel’s ancient edict about hostages, to the effect that the general good (tikkun olam) mandates that families may not pay a premium for a kidnapped family member, even if they can afford to do so, because that will simply create more hostage situations.  In a hostage market economy, the higher the price, the greater the incentive to kidnap.

As part of that discussion, I made a parenthetical, unsupported reference to the fact that modern Israel, which has reversed its long-standing policy of refusing to negotiate for hostages, is giving Palestinians and Hezbollah ever greater incentive to kidnap soldiers and civilians. Today, in a long, well-supported article, Bret Stephens makes precisely the same point about the market Israel is creating for the kidnapping of its own citizens.

UPDATEA little info on the type of people Israel is using as payment for this no-win hostage negotiation.

Second Amendment picture of the day

This is not a picture in America, but the top two pictures in this story illustrate perfectly why it matters that a nation’s citizens — the vast majority of whom are law abiding — can bear arms.

It is also interesting to note that, while the Beeb instantly tried to paint the Israelis as killers, this more “low brow” British paper, which has some of the highest circulation numbers in England, showed Israeli heroics and a wounded Israeli child, both of which I believe are images vastly more sympathetic to a nation beleaguered by terror.

It’s not the story; it’s the story about the story

Honest Reporting captured the first spin that the BBC put on the terrible story of the latest massacre in Israel (a Palestinian versus Israelis, of course) — and, as always, it was Israel who was spun as the brutal aggressor.  Orwell clearly understood something in the British psyche when he wrote 1984 — or, more accurately, he understood how socialism has always recognized that facts are meaningless, and outcomes are everything.

Ah, these linguistic subtleties!

Did you know that a rocket could break a truce?  I didn’t.  Being neither a scientist nor a weapons expert, nor a member of the MSM, I kind of thought that, absent human intervention, rockets would just lie around inert.  It’s just always seemed to me that, for a rocket to fly through the air and strike something far away, there has to be a human who placed it in a launcher and pressed the button.

Thanks to the AP, which I dare not quote since it will bankrupt me if I do, I’ve now learned how wrong I am.  You see, when I went to Drudge at 11:14 P.S.T. today, I saw a headline that said “Rockets break truce.”  While Drudge may not be an . . . ahem . . . rocket scientist, even he must know that rockets probably don’t have the intelligence to do any truce breaking.  Curious about this peculiar headline formation, I clicked on his link and discovered that AP story from which I dare not quote.  I can tell you however, that the AP was the one who misled poor Matt Drudge by telling him about those rockets, using an even more mangled headline than Drudge’s.

Ah, heck!  I’m going to live dangerously here and actually quote that headline, since it defeats paraphrasing:

Rockets hit Israel, which says truce broken

So, the rockets acted without human intervention but Israel, that spoilsport, is once again backing out of its sacred obligations to Hamas.

It’s only when you read the story that you discover that it was those darned “Palestinian militants” (is that a copyrighted phrase?) that actually launched the rockets that hit Israel.  What’s really funny is that the AP, after explaining that it was humans who were parties to a truce that launched the rockets, injuring civilians, goes on to add that this behavior presents that same truce with “a serious test.”  (Please tell me that’s not a copyrighted phrase either.)

Again, in the “silly me” category, I actually thought truces were binary.  Both sides promise not to fight.  If one side breaks that promise, the truce is gone.  It’s vanished as if it never existed.  It’s dead.  It’s not a truce any more if only one side sticks with it.  In AP-land, however, it appears that a truce continues to exist as to the Israelis, but that the Palestinians may violate it with impunity.

Indeed, in that same faraway AP-land, Palestinian truce violations are probably a good thing, since we here in America like “testing.”  We see tests as a way of proving how well things are doing.  If that truce can survive the Palestinian test of unfettered rocket launches against Israeli civilians, it must be a very strong truce.  It gets the AP seal of approval, that’s for sure.

I’m sick of this whole thing.  Can the reading audience really be as stupid and biased as the AP writers?  Sadly, I’m going to bet that Israel can be even more stupid, since I think it’s going to let the Palestinians pass this test and, in the face of a blatant truce violation, do either nothing or so little in response that it’s tantamount to nothing.

Good idea, bad leader *UPDATED*

Richard Baehr initially supported Ariel Sharon’s decision to withdraw Israel from the Gaza Strip.  He now believes that the withdrawal was a terrible mistake, and carefully explains why.  As for me, I don’t think it was a mistake then.  I think it collapsed for a reason that could not be foreseen.  Let me explain.

What I said at the time was that, as long as the territories were under Israel’s aegis, Israel could not wage war against them.  If they were a separate hostile nation, however, she could treat them as one would any other hostile nation on one’s own border — with full-scale warfare.  I believe that Ariel Sharon would have done that.  However, Ariel Sharon was struck down, and in his place is Olmert, whose only significant skill seems to be to retain office with a zero approval rating.  Sharon would not have allowed 3,000 rockets to rain down on Israel from an enemy nation.  Olmert has.

Olmert is terrified of looking bad in the eyes of the world.  Mr. Olmert, a hint:  The world already hates Israel.  Short of voluntarily turning the country over to the Arabs and then having all Jewish residents take a farewell march into the Meditteranean, the world will always hate you.  You are the unpopular kid in school, and nothing will change that.  Stop trying to get in with the in-crowd and take care of yourself.

UPDATEHere’s a bit more about the truly horrible Olmert.

Answering back

One of the things that has infuriated me for years in the roiling battle between Israel and her neighbors is Israel’s utter ineptitude at courting the media.  For decades, after ever single “event,” the Palestinians offered dozens of sympathetic people up for interviews with the MSM, while the Israelis offered terse, uninformative commentaries from tight lipped “military spokesmen.”  It allowed the Palestinians to gain complete control over the dialog.  No matter what was going on on the ground, Israel was steadily losing in the war of ideas.

I’m not the only one, of course, who has noticed this.  Michael Phillips has come up with an idea:  a simple chart that examines, not the facts of every event, but simply the number of times Hamas and its ilk have been caught in lies.  I’m not the only one, by the way, who likes this idea.  Michael got over 3,000 extra daily hits from people interested in the concept.  It might actually impress the Arabs too:  as many have been impressed by Israel’s willingness to go after a corrupt Prime Minister.  It can be very useful to separate facts from ideology.

Why talks don’t always work

The other day I did a lengthy post explaining (to my own satisfaction) why there is nothing “McCarthyite” about the fact that American Jews assume that those who support Palestinians are not just supporting peace, but are in fact hostile to Israel or anti-Semitic — or both. This is because, I said, the relationship between Israel and her neighbors is not an ordinary neighborly dispute about borders or water rights or trade. Instead, it is a zero sum game, with the zero sum being the fact that Israel’s neighbors desire only her extinction, and nothing else. All other talks are shams, aimed at incrementally leading towards the ultimate goal of Israel’s destruction.

Amir Taheri understands that precisely the same existential problem plays out with any efforts to engage in “peace” talks with Iran:

The reason is that Iran is gripped by a typical crisis of identity that afflicts most nations that pass through a revolutionary experience. The Islamic Republic does not know how to behave: as a nation-state, or as the embodiment of a revolution with universal messianic pretensions. Is it a country or a cause?

A nation-state wants concrete things such as demarcated borders, markets, access to natural resources, security, influence, and, of course, stability – all things that could be negotiated with other nation-states. A revolution, on the other hand, doesn’t want anything in particular because it wants everything.

In 1802, when Bonaparte embarked on his campaign of world conquest, the threat did not come from France as a nation-state but from the French Revolution in its Napoleonic reincarnation. In 1933, it was Germany as a cause, the Nazi cause, that threatened the world. Under communism, the Soviet Union was a cause and thus a threat. Having ceased to be a cause and re-emerged a nation-state, Russia no longer poses an existential threat to others.

The problem that the world, including the U.S., has today is not with Iran as a nation-state but with the Islamic Republic as a revolutionary cause bent on world conquest under the guidance of the “Hidden Imam.” The following statement by the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the “Supreme leader” of the Islamic Republic – who Mr. Obama admits has ultimate power in Iran — exposes the futility of the very talks Mr. Obama proposes: “You have nothing to say to us. We object. We do not agree to a relationship with you! We are not prepared to establish relations with powerful world devourers like you! The Iranian nation has no need of the United States, nor is the Iranian nation afraid of the United States. We . . . do not accept your behavior, your oppression and intervention in various parts of the world.”

Bottom line:  You cannot negotiate with an ideology.  Whether that ideology is Israel’s destruction or Islam’s world ascendancy, there is nowhere to go with discussion.  Details are irrelevant.  The Revolution drives the train and it’s not stopping for minor details such as peaceful coexistence.

The myth of the occupied territories

I’m beginning to think that incrementalism is one of the most dangerous things out there, whether it’s the way Obama leaks out the truth about his big lies or the way in which the jihadists keep asking for little things from us — no pigs, no dogs, no occupied territories.  As to that latter bit of incrementalism, Charles Krauthammer reminds us of the big lie behind the current theory that the whole problem with Israel is the occupied territories  (so that, if she just gave them up, everything would be hunky-dory, with no further demands against her):

[In the 1948 War of Independence, which had all the Arab nations massed at 650,000 Jews] Israel prevailed, another miracle. But at a very high cost — not just to the Palestinians displaced as a result of a war designed to extinguish Israel at birth, but also to the Israelis, whose war losses were staggering: 6,373 dead. One percent of the population. In American terms, it would take 35 Vietnam memorials to encompass such a monumental loss of life.

You rarely hear about Israel’s terrible suffering in that 1948-49 war. You hear only the Palestinian side. Today, in the same vein, you hear that Israeli settlements and checkpoints and occupation are the continuing root causes of terrorism and instability in the region.

But in 1948, there were no “occupied territories.” Nor in 1967 when Egypt, Syria and Jordan joined together in a second war of annihilation against Israel.

Look at Gaza today. No Israeli occupation, no settlements, not a single Jew left. The Palestinian response? Unremitting rocket fire killing and maiming Israeli civilians. The declared casus belli of the Palestinian government in Gaza behind these rockets? The very existence of a Jewish state.

Israel’s crime is not its policies but its insistence on living. On the day the Arabs — and the Palestinians in particular — make a collective decision to accept the Jewish state, there will be peace, as Israel proved with its treaties with Egypt and Jordan. Until that day, there will be nothing but war. And every “peace process,” however cynical or well-meaning, will come to nothing.